In April, 2010 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA conducted a unique and historic campaign at the Ohio State University called “The Price of Life.” The vision of National Evangelist, R. York Moore, the Price of Life was a national effort to impact hearts and minds as well as federal and state law in the area of forced child prostitution. In conjunction with the International Justice Mission, World Vision, the Not for Sale Campaign, Hagar International, and Gracehaven House, InterVarsity engaged one of America’s largest campuses with the issue of modern-day slavery from a political, business, social work, legal, academic, activist, and spiritual perspective. This campaign, or “Invitational,” was an historic event that changed the way people think about human trafficking in the United States and changed the hearts and minds of over 300 students at the Ohio State University who gave their lives to Jesus Christ during the campaign. Visit the official site for the Price of Life Invitational for more information about the week and to learn more about the growing problem of the forced prostitution of children in the U.S. and abroad. Here are some highlights of the week:
The Parade of Tears was a grass-roots demonstration to protest the dehumanization of children who are forced into a life of sexual servitude. The Parade of Tears was a long-time dream of campaign director, R. York Moore. During this campaign, women and men marched the Underground Railroad in Columbus bound, gagged, chained, and donning the official Price of Life “barcode girl” logo on their faces. Between 700-900 people turned out along with heavy media coverage. Demonstrators heard speeches from David Batstone, founder and president of the Not for Sale Campaign, R. York Moore, Joel King (first cousin to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and musical artists. Several former trafficking victims also marched and reported a deep inner healing as a result of people walking with them to raise awareness of their suffering.
The Town Hall meeting was a gathering of state and federal lawmakersto address the inadequacies of laws governing the trafficking of people and specifically H.R. 2737, “The Child Compact Act.” In this standing-room-only event, for over 2 hours attendees heard a bipartisan commitment from members of the US House of Representatives, state and federal judges, and others to protect children from forced prostitution. Holly Burkhalter, Vice President of the International Justice Mission, spoke about the international migration of sex traffickers and what is being done to fight trafficking from a policy perspective. Theresa Flores, trafficking survivor and founder of Gracehaven House, spoke about her journey into slavery and her work to bring transformation to women recovering from forced prostitution in Columbus, Ohio.
Over 300 students came to Christ as students led students to Christ using “Proxe Stations” and through nightly “niche” meetings like the Unshackled Dance Competition where Asian and South Asian students danced to raise money to fight human trafficking. R. York Moore preached at one of these nightly meetings where over 200 students gave their lives to Christ. Students and community members from area churches used the “New World” gospel presentation to share the good news of Jesus in a way that was relevantly connected to the issue of justice. Justina, a student who had never shared her faith before, led someone to Christ for the first time at a Proxe Station. Moments afterwards, she shared, “Before I started this Proxe Station, I really had my doubts but now I’m so excited! I just prayed with someone to receive Christ! This is my first time-I can’t believe it!” Vikki Rubens, one of InterVarsity’s National Speakers, delivered a powerful message of hope and restoration at the Unshackled event where several Asian students professed Christ for the first time. During the Price of Life Invitational, justice and Jesus came together in a powerful and life-changing way.
Throughout the Price of Life, InterVarsity and partnering organizations, churches, and student groups engaged the campus and the city through the media, films in most of the dorms, in-class presentations, literature distribution, Twitter and Facebook, lectures and seminars, and “human illustrations” which visually portrayed the suffering of those sold into a life of sexual servitude. Throughout the week, Columbus and Ohio generally were made aware of the realities of sexual slavery through radio shows, newspaper interviews and television coverage. The facts about slavery in US were shared and thousands were inspired to give, study, engage politically and ask the question about the role of faith in addressing this evil. The Price of Life also included a capital campaign to raise financial resources for the front-line organizations in the battle against trafficking. Raising money, networks, awareness, activism and commitment from students at one of the largest campuses in America was the result of this historic event. The “Invitational” campaign concept was created by R. York Moore and has been conducted in various forms coast to coast throughout the U.S.
The Main Event was conducted in partnership between InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA and Campus Crusade for Christ along with dozens of other Christian and non-Christian student groups to consider the spiritual perspective in the fight against human trafficking. Between 1200 and 1500 students came out to play a game patterned after the Price is Right where goods and prizes were valued to correspond to the price of slaves. A multi-pack of toilette paper was shown to have the same approximate value to the rape of a 7 year old girl in Cambodia. An annual sun tanning package or spa treatment was demonstrated to have the same approximate value of a 15 year old forced prostitute in Toledo, OH-the U.S. child prostitute capital. World Vision’s Steve Reynolds spoke about the restorative work of his organization in rehabilitating young girls and boys trafficked for sex and spoken word and dance artists drove the saddening facts of trafficking into the hearts of those in attendance through the arts. R. York Moore gave the keynote message and invited the passionate crowd to pursue the “child-ward journey” by coming to Jesus Christ. Students were given red marbles and were asked to drop them into glass bowls passed up and down the aisles. As over 200 students gave their lives to Christ, the dropping of each marble and the echo in the auditorium was musical and magical as God’s Holy Spirit drew many to true life transformation. Students were also invited to fight trafficking with all their “super powers” and to pledge themselves to the fight of the modern-day abolitionist movement by dropping clear stones into the same jars. Marbles were then taken to the front and poured into one large bowl on the stage before the program concluded.